Jewish historian banned from French show for calling host’s African name an ‘insult’


(JTA) – One of France’s most prestigious television talks hows said it would no longer feature the Jewish historian Eric Zemmour after he called an African colleague’s first name “an insult” to the republic.

Zemmour, a controversial right-winger, got kicked out this week from France 2’s On n’est Pas Couché (“We’re not Asleep”) for things he said on Sept. 16 during an off-camera exchange he had in a television studio with Hapsatou Sy, a 37-year-old television talk show host of Senegalese descent.

Zemmour on Friday said during another television interview that Sy admonished him, calling him a “disgrace” for his right-wing nationalist views, upon which he retorted by saying that Sy, who was born in France, has a first name that is “an insult to France.” He also suggested she should have been named Corinne, adding: “It would suit you very well.”

“When you come to insult me, you run the risk of getting insulted back,” he said during the interview Friday about the exchange.

On Wednesday, the production of On n’est Pas Couché announced it would no longer host Zemmour, a best-selling author who is currently promoting his latest book, “French Destiny.”

Zemmour in 2010 said most drug dealers in France were of African or Arab descent and that employers therefore had a right to reject job seekers from those ethnicities. He was convicted of hate speech for these assertions, which, along with his defense of French fascists, have made him a popular figure in some far-right circles.

In 2016, he was invited, amid protests, to attend a debate at Grand Synagogue of Paris about the Nazi occupation of France.

At the June 1, 2016 debate with former Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim, Zemmour reiterated the gist of his thesis on Vichy, that “there was, effectively, a pact with the devil in which Vichy gave up foreign Jews, or at any rate allowed them to be taken, in order to save French Jews.” He cited criticism by hard-core pro-fascists on the Vichy government over the presence of some Jews in France.

Francis Kalifat, the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, told JTA that Zemmour “should not have been invited” to the Grand Synagogue of Paris last month to a debate about the historical record of the Vichy regime.

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